01: Milestones for Raising Seed Capital
Below are the milestones that you will need to achieve in order to attract Angel Investors:
You may have self-financed the initial startup costs and/or raised FFF capital without a business plan, but in order to attract seed investment from angel investors you will need a comprehensive plan. This should be complete with extensive market research and a detailed financial model. A major piece of the business plan will be your capitalization strategy demonstrating the milestone timeline discussed above as well as the effects of accomplished milestones on the company’s future valuation.
Depending on the complexity of your product you may or may not be able to complete a working prototype or beta version with your seed capital. If not, at the bare minimum you will need an interactive wireframe or mockup to demonstrate product features and functionality. You will also need proposals for the cost to develop the minimum viable product (the features that allow the product to be deployed).
Founding Team, Key Hires, Advisory Board
Seed investors heavily weigh the importance of the startup team when evaluating an investment opportunity. The reason is simple, the company will face adversity, things will go wrong and the plan will change. With the right team in place, the company is more likely to overcome obstacles, fix the issues and adapt the plan. If you cannot afford to hire the individuals with key expertise, you may need to bring them on as co-founders with an equity stake or hire a part-time, interim individual or company. You can also bring these skillsets to the organization via a board of advisors. In any case, you should plan on having a team member, service provider, or advisor for every part of the business other than your area of expertise. For example, if you are a tech expert launching a mobile app, you will want a team member, service provider, or advisor fulfilling the roles of CEO, CFO, sales, and marketing. At this stage, it is fine for one person to fill several roles so long as they have the expertise to fill these gaps at their fingertips.
Be sure to budget a small amount ($2,500 – $5,000) of your startup capital to ensure that you legally setup your firm. Work with a lawyer to ensure that you are setting up the business according to what’s best, given your goals and capitalization strategy. It’s better to pay a little now and get it right rather than have to go through the costly and arduous transition down the road. There will be some additional legal fees to complete the paperwork to close the fundraising round.
If your business can secure any intellectual property rights now would be the time to do it. Common types of IP rights include copyright, trademarks, patents, design rights, and trade secrets.
While all of these milestones are vital to the success of raising seed capital, market validation is towards the top of the list. In your pitch to FFF investors you told them that there was a need for your product in the market. In your pitch to seed investors, it’s necessary to show investors this need. If you were able to build your product or a working prototype / beta version, it’s time to get either paying customers or free users. Obtain customer feedback and demonstrate that your product is fulfilling a real market need.